The German government has deployed top Special Forces units to Cyprus in preparation for potential crisis situations in Israel, Gaza, and the Middle East, according to Bild. The German Army’s Special Forces Command (KSK), the Navy Special Forces (KSM) unit, and the federal police Special Forces unit (GSG 9) have all been sent to the Eastern Mediterranean island.
The move comes as tensions between Israel and the Gaza-based Palestinian Hamas militant group continue to escalate. The conflict began when Hamas launched a massive attack on Israel, firing rockets and briefly overrunning Israeli settlements near Gaza. More than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the ensuing clashes between the militants and the Israeli military.
Hamas has also confirmed that they have taken more than 200 people hostage, including a number of German citizens. There is now a “double-digit number” of German captives being held, and the German Special Forces units could potentially be used to rescue them. Additionally, these units may be deployed to evacuate German citizens working in Gaza or assist Germans in leaving Lebanon if the conflict spreads into that territory.
To support the deployed Special Forces units, the German government has transported necessary equipment and military transport aircraft to Cyprus. This includes the Airbus A400M Atlas and Lockheed C-130 Hercules. The government has reportedly informed relevant parliamentary committees about these preparations.
Berlin has stated that they are “ready for a cold start and prepared for all options.” In military terms, a “cold start” means a high state of readiness where units can be immediately deployed and become operational without additional preparations.
Meanwhile, tensions in Gaza remain high. On Tuesday, a strike on a hospital in Gaza resulted in the deaths of over 500 people, as reported by local health authorities. Many Muslim nations have blamed Israel for the incident, but Israel has strongly denied any involvement and instead placed blame on local Palestinian militant groups. As a result, massive anti-Israeli demonstrations have taken place across the Middle East and North Africa, from Morocco to Iran.
In the midst of this outcry, US President Joe Biden visited Tel Aviv and expressed unwavering support for Israel. He also denied Israel’s responsibility for the hospital strike.
The deployment of German Special Forces units to Cyprus reflects the escalating tensions and the German government’s commitment to preparing for potential crisis situations in the Middle East. By positioning these units in close proximity to the region, Berlin aims to swiftly respond to any emerging threats and protect its citizens abroad.